THINK INDEPENDENTLY

The United States celebrates its independence on July 4, marking the day in 1776 when the thirteen colonies served up the Declaration of Independence to the British crown. Here’s a pop quiz on the birthdays of a few other countries. Answers below.


  1. This country, which celebrates its independence just five days after the US, is the world’s newest country, gaining sovereignty from its northern neighbor in 2011 after decades of ethnic and sectarian strife. After just two years of independence, internal power struggles plunged it into its own horrific civil war.
  2. Amid rising tensions with its Mexican rulers, in part over the number of undocumented Americans it was allowing in, this territory declared itself an independent republic in 1836, and held its ground after a brief but brutal war of independence fought largely by American mercenaries.
  3. During the Napoleonic wars, this colony was actually the capital-in-exile of the European empire that ruled it. When some of the royal family refused to go back to Europe afterwards, the stage was set for a declaration of independence in 1822.
  4. On June 12, 1990 this country declared independence from the Soviet Union, but assumed most of the old empire’s military assets, international treaty obligations, and debts.

Answers: 1. South Sudan, 2. Texas, 3. Brazil, 4. Russia

Scientists, engineers and technologists are turning to nature in search of solutions to climate change. Biomimicry is now being applied in the energy sector, medicine, architecture, communications, transport and agriculture in a bid to make human life on this planet more sustainable and limit the impacts of global warming. New inventions have been inspired by humpback whales, kingfishers and mosquitoes.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

The drumbeat for regulating artificial intelligence (AI) is growing louder. Earlier this week, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, became the latest high-profile Silicon Valley figure to call for governments to put guardrails around technologies that use huge amounts of (sometimes personal) data to teach computers how to identify faces, make decisions about mortgage applications, and myriad other tasks that previously relied on human brainpower.

More

January 27 marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi extermination camp. But even as some 40 heads of state gathered in Jerusalem this week to commemorate the six million Jews who were killed, a recent Pew survey revealed that many American adults don't know basic facts about the ethnic cleansing of Europe's Jews during the Second World War. Fewer than half of those polled knew how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and close to a third didn't know when it actually happened. Here's a look at some of the numbers.

1: The Greek parliament has elected a woman president for the first time since the country's independence some 200 years ago. A political outsider, Katerina Sakellaropoulou is a high court judge with no known party affiliation. "Our country enters the third decade of the 21st century with more optimism," Greece's prime minister said.

More

A quarantine in China– Local authorities have locked down the city of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak of a new and potentially deadly respiratory virus that, as of Thursday morning, had infected more than 540 people in at least six countries. Other nearby cities were also hit by travel restrictions. Rail and air traffic out of Wuhan has been halted. Public transportation is shut, and local officials are urging everyone to stay put unless they have a special need to travel. Wuhan is a city of 11 million people, many of whom were about to travel for the Chinese New Year. We're watching to see whether these extraordinary measures help stem the outbreak, but also to see how the people affected respond to the clampdown.

More